Microsoft 365 Project Management Tools: How to Make the Most of Them?

Navigating the ins and outs of project management is key for any organisation seeking efficiency and productivity. Luckily, Microsoft 365 steps in like a hero, providing a range of user-friendly tools to help with scheduling and visualising tasks. At the core of this toolkit is Microsoft Project, a name that says it all about its power.

Carefully crafted, Microsoft Project is more than just software; it’s your partner in planning, organising, and reporting on projects, no matter how straightforward or complex they may be. It smoothly tracks connections, keeps an eye on resource allocations, and adjusts whether you’re at your desk or on the go, as it’s available on both the web and mobile platforms.

With three levels of Microsoft Project available, businesses can customise their project management approach, fine-tune schedules, and resource usage to perfection. In the next sections, we’ll provide essential advice on how to make the most of Microsoft 365’s project management tools, bringing your project objectives from concept to reality.

What are Microsoft 365 Project Management Tools?

Microsoft Project is a cloud-based project management tool that works great for businesses that are already using or thinking about Microsoft 365. It links smoothly with many other apps in the Microsoft 365 set, making it super handy. With three pricing plans for businesses and an option for an on-site version, Microsoft Project suits different business needs. It gives you a range of project and portfolio management tools, including ready-made templates like Agile, Application Development, and Enterprise Project, to kick off your projects quickly.

You can see your projects in a Grid, Board, or Timeline (Gantt chart) view, picking the one that fits your workflow and project needs best. Microsoft Project is flexible and customisable, especially with its cloud integration, so you can tweak it to match your business processes and needs.

The Best Top 20 Microsoft 365 Tools To Track Projects

Microsoft 365, with its broad spectrum of tools, offers a comprehensive suite designed to meet various project management needs, ensuring projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is among the oldest project management tools on the market, offering extensive experience in supporting rigorous project management methodologies such as Waterfall and Agile. While it is renowned for its rich features suited for experienced project managers and teams, it has gained a reputation for not being the most user-friendly, potentially posing challenges for newcomers to project management software.

Notably, alongside the continued support for both browser- and desktop-based versions, Microsoft has introduced ‘Project for the web’. This new, cloud-based version is notable for its user-friendly interface and ease of learning. Our analysis and hands-on exploration of both versions, particularly focusing on the original Microsoft Project, highlight the depth and flexibility of this project management tool, despite recognizing the steep learning curve it presents for beginners.

Microsoft Teams Communication

Microsoft Teams

While most of the choices we’ve discussed so far focus on the data and tasks in your project, Microsoft Teams is the main communication center in Microsoft 365. It has individual or group chat features that act as notice boards to help your team work smoothly. Each team can create different channels, and hosts can choose to record conference calls.

For example, if your company has a creative team that works on all client projects, you can make a special team for these members and unique channels for each client. At first, using Microsoft Teams might seem confusing because of its specific terms. This complexity comes from how the platform is designed, encouraging users to create “teams” for one-on-one chats and group talks.

Asana

Asana is great as project management software, making teamwork easier and boosting productivity. Its main aim is to make it easy for teams to organise, track, and handle their work. With a user-friendly look, it helps users create tasks, give them to team members, set deadlines, and explain tasks clearly.

Asana offers different ways to view tasks, like lists, boards, calendars, and Gantt charts, using its Timeline feature, suiting various project management styles. It also encourages a linked-up communication space where teams can share notes, files, and chat directly within each task or project, making sure all important information is in one place and easy to find.

Monday

Monday.com is a clever cloud-based Work Operating System (Work OS) that helps teams create workflow apps tailored to their daily tasks. This platform isn’t just about managing tasks; it’s a complete tool that changes how teams work. With customisable workflow templates, monday.com lets users handle projects their way, ensuring each project phase is clear and easy to follow.

Tracking time is simple, meeting deadlines is easier, and manual work is reduced through smart automation. Dashboards offer quick insights, and integration with popular tools simplifies processes. With monday.com, managing projects, tasks, and client interactions is smooth, cutting down on emails and meetings by up to 50% for better productivity.

Microsoft Planner

Microsoft Planner joins the Microsoft 365 platform suite as a Kanban-style task management app, providing an easy and visual way for teams to coordinate project tasks. By using agile tools like buckets and boards, Planner streamlines task management, making project oversight easier and more visually attractive.

Teams can create detailed tasks, assign owners, use color-coded labels for quick recognition, attach files for easy access, incorporate checklists to monitor progress, and enable communication through comments. It’s important to note that Planner has limited reporting capabilities, particularly for cross-project analysis. Also, to view project plans in Planner, all users need to subscribe to Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Business Essentials, or Enterprise accounts, which restricts accessibility.

Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a modern work management tool that’s easy to use and packed with features, catering to different work styles on a secure platform. It’s not just about tracking tasks; Smartsheet is a cloud-based app that’s great for collaboration and project management. It works seamlessly with Google Apps, so you can connect your Google account, Calendar, Drive, Gmail, Sheets, and more.

Plus, its partnership with Salesforce makes operations smoother, boosting productivity. Smartsheet gives IT pros full control over access, security, and data, making it a must-have for businesses of all sizes looking to grow and thrive. With its range of features, Smartsheet can meet various business needs while staying simple and user-friendly.

Wrike

Wrike stands out as a strong, cloud-based project management tool, known for its smooth connections and flexibility. Especially useful for small teams without cost, Wrike helps with excellent coordination and efficiency by linking easily with Google Apps, Excel, and other important software.

Its key feature, Wrike Reports, lets users not only create and change documents but also see them from their email IDs, making work and communication smoother. This compatibility with Google’s project management tools makes Wrike a vital help for teams aiming to boost productivity without extra cost.

Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects comes across as an all-encompassing, internet-based solution in the world of project management apps, known for its generous free tier suitable for medium-sized organisations. Standing out with a wide range of usual features, Zoho really excels with its strong Tasks Section, helping teams handle their tasks efficiently.

It lets you create and edit Gantt charts, giving a visual timeline for project milestones and task deadlines. Also, its ability to link up with different platforms boosts its usefulness, ensuring smooth work processes across various tools. While it has a basic tracking system and provides essential reporting features, Zoho Projects is a great choice for organisations looking for a free yet effective project management solution.

ClickUp

ClickUp is a top all-in-one tool for getting work done smartly. It helps teams plan, organise, and do projects together using Docs, Goals, Whiteboards, and Chat. The ClickUp Dashboard puts all these tools in one place, saving users time by replacing less flexible tools. ClickUp has eight view modes for managing projects and tasks effectively.

Teams can customise their workflows with unique project statuses, while managers can oversee multiple projects at once with real-time table view and multitasking. The board view focuses on agile Scrum for better project management. Also, ClickUp lets you import data easily from other apps, making the switch smooth.

Microsoft To Do

Microsoft To Do is an online task managing app that helps users make lists, reminders, and notes for personal or work stuff. It’s free and works on phones and computers, so it’s good for folks who want to organise tasks without spending money. When it comes to managing projects, Microsoft To Do is more basic for teamwork than other tools in the Microsoft 365 bunch.

You can share lists with others, but they need a Microsoft To Do account to see or change the list. Even though it has limits, Microsoft To Do is a great tool for sorting personal tasks or for pros who need a simple way to organise their daily to-dos and reminders.

Outlook

Outlook is a Microsoft application primarily used for sending and receiving emails. Yet, its capabilities go beyond simple postman duties. The app can also help organise your calendar by adding appointments, tasks, and managing contacts. As part of the Microsoft 365 Suite, you can buy it bundled with other Microsoft Office 365 tools. Outlook has been around since 1997 when it was introduced with Microsoft Office 97. Since then, there have been numerous versions with enhanced features aimed at making office life easier.

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is primarily an email and calendar application that’s available as part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite. There is both a web version and an app that can be installed on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone. In addition to email and calendar, Microsoft Outlook also handles contacts and tasks. To learn more about Outlook Calendar, please visit this article. Outlook is the only approved mail application for your school/work email. For more information on this, please visit this article.

MeisterTask

MeisterTask stands out in the world of project management with its easy-to-use interface and strong range of features, aimed at boosting productivity for teams of all sizes. Users can speed up their tasks with various features, like seamless integration with Dropbox, Zendesk, Box, GitHub, Bitbucket, and Google Drive, creating a connected workspace.

Also, its link with the mind-mapping app MindMeister improves brainstorming and planning, getting the most from idea sessions. MeisterTask has a customisable dashboard, so users can personalise their workspace to suit their needs. Its project boards are flexible, fitting different project management methods like Kanban and Scrum, making it versatile for various projects and offering a complete set of tools for project success.

Trello

Trello is a really easy project tool that uses the Kanban system to make lean management more effective. Its simple interface lets teams see their workflow in a fun and interactive way. By sorting projects into boards, Trello helps organise tasks clearly, showing who’s doing what, the project status, deadlines, and how long each stage takes.

One cool thing about Trello is that it’s easy to use; it has a good free version and works well on mobile. This means team members can update project info easily from anywhere. It’s a top tool for businesses wanting flexibility without losing out on features.

Basecamp

Basecamp stands out in the busy world of project management tools by focusing on being simple and easy to use. It’s seen as a more straightforward option compared to other tools that have lots of features but are complicated. Basecamp offers a really user-friendly layout that helps with teamwork without being overwhelming. At the core of Basecamp is splitting work into different projects, each with important tools like a to-do list, a calendar for planning, a group chat for quick chats, and a message board for official updates.

Basecamp also deals with the mess of external files by letting you save documents, spreadsheets, images, and more in each project. One cool thing about Basecamp is its regular check-ins, where team members get asked questions to update their progress. This smart way of keeping everyone in the loop avoids the need for time-consuming meetings.

Celoxis

Celoxis offers a comprehensive web-based project management software tailored for professional project management, business processes, and collaborative functions. With its enterprise-grade capabilities, user-friendly interface, and cost-effectiveness, it stands out as a top choice for organizations seeking to streamline project management processes. Celoxis empowers users to plan and oversee multiple project portfolios efficiently. You can create task schedules with inter-project dependencies, manage resource workloads, and handle portfolio risks effectively. Resource managers can monitor resource utilization across projects, ensuring a balanced approach through advanced capacity planning. For financial aspects, you have the flexibility to set project or task budgets and forecast billing accurately.

Teams can easily track time spent on different activities and log expenses incurred. Celoxis is highly adaptable to cater to diverse business requirements. For example, you can personalise resource work calendars or assign varying resource rates to specific projects. Additionally, users can report time on tasks even if they are not directly assigned. Report viewers can customise their reports with dynamic filters, columns, and groups to suit their preferences. Celoxis’ custom apps not only allow you to craft bespoke applications but also enable the modification of predefined workflows, such as bug tracking or risk management.

Easy Projects

Easy Projects, an award-winning collaborative work management platform, is crafted to empower medium to enterprise-level companies to achieve tangible operational enhancements. Whether working in-house or remotely, team members can deliver their finest work more swiftly by tailoring Easy Projects’ dashboard to suit their preferred working style. By avoiding missed deadlines and enhancing team collaboration through features like inter-project dependencies, Easy Projects streamlines project management tools such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, resource loading simulations, and project calendars.

These tools are now more user-friendly, enabling all users, not just Project Managers, to effectively oversee tasks and projects by plotting out all activities on a timeline. Critical paths and multiple dependencies are clearly delineated, allowing project managers to anticipate deadline alterations. For service-providing companies, Easy Projects offers a comprehensive suite of financial tools to aid teams in adhering to budgets and managing costs. Through expense tracking and project billing features, teams can prevent exceeding budgets, while the software’s time tracking capabilities ensure precise monitoring of employees’ billable hours.

Forecast

The Forecast app is a sturdy project management tool crafted to streamline workflow by integrating time tracking and fostering team collaboration. It caters to project managers and teams seeking a consolidated platform for intricate project planning and execution. The advantages of the tool encompass enhanced project visibility, effective resource allocation, and a reduction in time spent on project administration.

Forecast utilises artificial intelligence to provide predictive task assignment, aiding teams in meeting deadlines and ensuring smooth project progression. The platform’s user-friendly design simplifies navigation across various projects, facilitating managers and team members in tracking progress, managing budgets, and communicating efficiently. With Forecast, organisations can elevate productivity and project success, courtesy of its extensive features tailored to modern project management requirements.

Hive

Hive is a project management tool designed to make work easier, boost productivity, and help teams work well together. It comes with features like tracking tasks and time, visualising milestones, messaging, and using AI for content creation. Hive is free and made for different types of teams and work setups. Some users find it a bit hard to use because there are so many features and options. They also want better customer support for when things go wrong. Although Hive is great for managing projects, there are ways to make it easier to use and get help when needed.

SharePoint

Creating a SharePoint project site gives you a central spot to manage your project. You can use task lists to track actions, to-dos, and deadlines, calendar features for events, and document storage to keep everything organized. All can be accessed from your site homepage so everyone on the team can collaborate on documents.

You can sync team calendars and events with Outlook. You can also link your SharePoint Project site with Microsoft Project, the standalone project management software that certified Project Managers use. The downside of a Microsoft SharePoint Project Site can be expensive. While there are some templates available, if you need any specific customizations, adding them to your site can be costly at the beginning.

Excel

Excel is a spreadsheet programme from Microsoft and a component of its Office product group for business applications. Microsoft Excel allows users to format, organise, and calculate data in a spreadsheet. By organising data using software like Excel, data analysts and other users can make information easier to view as data is added or changed.

Excel contains a large number of boxes called cells that are ordered in rows and columns. Data is placed in these cells. Excel is a part of the Microsoft Office and Office 365 suites and is compatible with other applications in the Office suite. The spreadsheet software is available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS platforms.

project management

How Can The Business Project Management Make The Most of Microsoft 365?

Microsoft Project is made to work with many other cloud programs. It’s customizable, so you can make it work best for your SME. Use Microsoft Power BI to create overview pages for all your staff to see. Set up automatic responses when you change things in Project, like emailing employees, contractors, or clients for extra resources or updates on timeframes. Whatever you need, it’s likely doable. Have a chat with your in-house IT team or think about a consultation with a specialist.

How Vantage 365 Can Help

Vantage 365 is a highly skilled Microsoft 365 consultant. We support small businesses in the Midlands, adapting to all budgets and sharing our expertise to enhance your IT setup. We strongly believe that digital transformation and cloud-based systems like Microsoft 365 are the most future-proof choice for everyone. Microsoft Project is a great tool for organizing your business, team, and tasks. We’ve assisted many companies in setting it up and using it.

You’ll probably see that the benefits it brings outweigh the costs. If you need help developing a Microsoft 365-integrated Project system, why not give us a ring? We’re always happy to have a chat, no strings attached. We’ll sit down with you to figure out the best plan for your business and take it from there. Contact us at 01384 593720 or email us at hello@vantage365.co.uk. We’re excited to hear from you.

FAQs

How Much Does the Microsoft Project cost?

The price of Microsoft Project changes depending on the plan you pick. There are mainly three plans available: Project Plan 1, which is online and costs £10 per user per month; the Project Plan 3, more thorough and includes desktop client access, priced at £30 per user per month; and the Project Plan 5, offering advanced capabilities like resource and project portfolio management, which is priced at £55 per user per month.

It’s important to think about your team or organization’s specific needs to choose the most fitting subscription plan. Prices can change, so it’s best to check the official Microsoft website or contact a sales representative for the most current information.

Are there any advanced features in Microsoft Project that can help manage large projects?

Yes, Microsoft Project has lots of fancy features to help you handle big projects better. For example, it has tools to find the right team members for your projects and share out the work fairly. You can also use it to decide which projects are most important based on things like strategy, budget, and resources.

Microsoft Project can show you detailed reports and stats, like earned value analytics, to make sure your projects stay on track and on budget. It also helps you manage requests by checking how project ideas line up with the business goals and value. When you team it up with other Microsoft 365 apps, Microsoft Project becomes a powerful tool for handling big and complicated projects.

What training resources are available for mastering Microsoft 365 project management tools?

Plenty of training resources is out there for those who are keen on nailing Microsoft 365 project management tools. Microsoft itself has a bunch of online courses and lessons on the Microsoft Learn site. They cover everything from the basics of using Microsoft Project to fancy project management tricks.

Besides, other companies like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera do detailed courses on Project and other Microsoft 365 gear. For businesses, Microsoft offers training sessions and materials that fit a team or company’s needs. Also, lots of user groups, and forums share insights, tips, and top practices. Using all these can really boost your skill at handling projects with Microsoft 365 tools.

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